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50% vow to move to a start-up in their next career move

Our recent survey revealed that half of white collar workers would 'only' consider a start-up as their next career move.

With an estimated 40% of respondents looking to move jobs this year, analysts at leading recruiter Robert Walters warn of ‘The Great Corporate Resignation’ where the most established firms could stand to lose their best talent to emerging and fast growth start-ups whose culture is well-aligned to a post-pandemic world. 

According to a report from Robert Walters – Act Like a Start-Up and Recruit The Best Talent – the number of professionals working in start-ups has grown by 20% in the last 12-months, with this figure expected to grow as tech, marketing, HR, legal, and finance professionals are all in high demand from high-growth companies. 

Özlem Simsek, Managing Director at Robert Walters Belgium comments: “After any period of economic change, we typically see a wave of entrepreneurial or start-up activity – and so it does not surprise me to hear of the success of these businesses. What is interesting – however – is how these relatively-new 10-person companies are managing to draw some of the state’s top talent away from established firms who offer much higher levels of job security. Post pandemic we have seen a seismic shift in what professionals want from their employer – with purpose, culture, and people, rated above competitive pay and the well mapped-out corporate ladder.” 

The appeal of fast career progression 

The ability to be innovative (47%), undertake interesting work (34%), be exposed to open & effective management (30%), and have high levels of autonomy (28%), seem to be the leading factors drawing professionals to a start-up. 

Özlem: “In fact, it is the flat structure and fast-moving nature of the business which appeals most to ambitious professionals – with 52% stating that they would move to a start-up for lower pay if they saw an opportunity to progress much quicker than they would do within a corporate set-up.“

Culture the tipping point

Almost half of professionals (42%) want to work in a culture that inspires them to do their best, and a further third seek out employers whose social values align with their own – be it equity, mental health, or the environment.

Özlem adds: “The pandemic and extended periods of lockdown working triggered a lot of us to re-evaluate how we have been living and working – and with that has come a drive from people to be more purpose-driven and to do something that adds more meaning to their life.” 

By nature, large corporates may be slower to adopt new and emerging values – instead opting to stick with traditional ways that have been a mainstay for over 10 years. Start-ups on the other hand are on the front foot, listening to what is important to their employees – such as homelessness and world hunger – and then acting swiftly to help ‘do their bit.’ 

“The most attractive start-ups will have ‘visionary’ Founders – those who are not afraid to take a stance on social matters and who pride themselves on bringing their ‘true-self’ to work every day.”

Özlem provides her top 5 tips to large organisations on how to ‘Act like a start-up:’

1. Adapt for agility: An established company can copy some of a start-up’s agility by adapting its structure. Even large companies can introduce new, much more flexible ways of working, with smaller more flexible teams operating in a matrix structure.

2. Change how work gets done: n a start-up professionals have the opportunity to craft their own job as the business evolves and grows. Established companies can stimulate creativity and entrepreneurship by making their structure more agile and having an eye for innovation in processes.

3. Encourage innovation: ‘Fast failure’ is a prominent feature of start-up culture. Embracing failure encourages innovation and allows for multiple ideas to be tested in quick succession, in search of the idea that works. Established companies can reconsider their employee KPIs and targets to be more focused on trying new things rather than delivering set tasks.

4. Focus on talent: Changing the lens on talent is something large organisations can do. Hiring managers need to rid themselves of preconceived notions and unconscious biases, and look to hire, promote, and develop various kinds of people who have the potential to grow with their business.

5. Adapt your leadership style: Successful start-ups work in a productive way when management uses the principle of 'lead by example', personifying the qualities they want their staff to emulate. Leaders of established companies need adopt some of these skills in the way they operate, welcoming innovation, reducing levels of hierarchy, adopting and radiating a more collegiate and meritocratic working style.

Find out more?

Download our free eguide Act Like a Start-up and Recruit the Best Talent' or contact one of our offices

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